The residents of Walker County rank 65th out of 67 Alabama counties in regards to their health and well-being. Rates of diabetes, premature death, and infant and child mortality are higher than the Alabama average.
74% of Walker County’s 66,661 residents live in rural areas. Even so, Walker County has a much lower rate of accessibility to recreational areas for physical activity than other Alabamians.
With 22.1% of our county population living in poverty, and a median income below the state and national averages, 12,500 Walker County citizens rely on SNAP benefits (food stamps).
More than 8,600 children in Walker County depend on free or reduced school lunch programs. Far too many don’t have enough food to maintain a healthy lifestyle or have access to food that is safe and nutritious.
54% of Walker County’s restaurants are fast food establishments, making it difficult to make healthy choices on a budget. Unhealthy choices are more readily available and selected more often.
The Walker County Health Action Partnership is collaborating to turn these trends around. We’d like you to join us in our efforts.
Obesity is more prevalent in
- Adults who earn less than $15,000 per year
- The unemployed
- Adults who did not graduate high school
Obesity-related health problems include Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, arthritis, cancer, and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Approximately 33% of cancer deaths are linked to obesity or lack of physical activity.
Healthy Food Choices: improve healthy food access
Livable Communities: increase active living and improve environments
Healthy People: improve community wellness
Healthy Food Choices Goal
It’s hard to eat healthy food when it’s out of reach. Walker County needs to improve access to fresh produce so that everyone can eat healthy. Rural Alabama is rich with agriculture. We need to connect local farmers with merchants and customers to provide healthier choices and reduce the rate of obesity in adults and children. Examples such as Camp McDowell’s Farm School set a standard for integrating gardening with education and business development.
Livable Communities Goal
To increase opportunities for physical activity, we’re working to equip Walker County with safe places to walk, ride bicycles, or just play. We want to create an environment where it’s easy to get to the places you need to go, whether it’s walking to school or to shops or to visit friends. More safe sidewalks and trails improve foot traffic and reduce time spent riding in cars and buses. Walker County has opportunities to increase our greenways, blueways, and open spaces with rails-to-trails projects, access to Black Water Creek, and more success stories like the “pocket” park in Jasper.
Healthy People Goal
A healthy community thrives in many ways. Higher rates of obesity and related diseases lead to more sick days and lower productivity from the workforce. Tobacco usage is 5% higher in Walker County than the rest of Alabama (higher than the national average). Smoke-free policies and support programs for cessation are a priority for Walker County to prevent tobacco-related disease. New businesses want to establish themselves in areas with amenities such as parks, greenways, and healthy food options. Improving the health of Walker County’s people and improving the environment of Walker County is an economic win. Healthy communities succeed by providing better opportunities for their residents to live longer and be more productive.